Dig Your Own at the Crabtree Emerald Mine
One of the unique experiences available to the visitor to Emerald Village is the opportunity to prospect and dig for emeralds in the dumps at the Crabtree Emerald Mine. This mine produced emeralds from 1895 (including for the Tiffany Company of New York) until the mine closed in the 1990s. The actual mine shaft went underground several hundred feet and lies flooded under a small pond.
There are some extensive dumps around the mine, and it is clear the miners did not see or find everything! Recent digging through the dumps has produced a number of nice specimens. Of the minerals that have been found the most sought after is the Emerald, generally tightly locked into a matrix of quartz, mica, and feldspar. Also found in these dumps are black tourmaline, garnet, fluorite, aquamarine, and golden beryl.
In the whole United States there have been only 2 significant sources of emeralds. One of these is the Crabtree Emerald Mine! The other is near Hiddenite, NC.
The Crabtree Emerald Mine is owned by Mineral City Mining Company, and leased to the MAGMA rock club (Mountain Area Gem & Mineral Association). Emerald Village is the local representative. Digging through the dumps is available for $25 per day for ages 13 and up, $5 per day for ages 5-12, and free for 4 and under. Only hand tools are allowed and you can keep anything you find. You must have in your possession at all times a copy of a signed waiver of liability available at Emerald Village. No reservation is necessary and you can come by Emerald Village any time it is open to buy a digging permit.
Bring your own tools, or rent a set from Emerald Village for $25 per day ($100 deposit, $75 refunded on return). Remember that the mine is remote and primitive and that there no facilities of any kind. Digging rocks and breaking boulders is required, and both are very hard work! You will probably not find emeralds by strolling around, you will have to engage in some serious digging and breaking rocks. Most people are happier and better rewarded at the Emerald Village Gemstone Mine, but if you are adamant about digging your own this is as good as it gets!